Kevin Love’s Back Problem Could Be Big Pain For Cavs

CLEVELAND (AP) — Kevin Love’s back flared up just when things were starting to calm down for the Cavaliers.

Love was to have an MRI and medical evaluation Monday to see what’s causing the back spasms that have bothered him for several weeks. The All-Star forward, who left Sunday’s win over Oklahoma City in the first half, did not travel with the NBA champions for their game in Dallas.

The team is expected to provide an update on Love, who is averaging 19.9 points and 11 rebounds in what to this point has been the best of his three seasons with Cleveland.

The Cavs, who play five of their next six games on the road, may decide to give Love some time off to see how his back responds. There’s no urgency at this point other than to get him healthy for the season’s final two months and the postseason.

“This has been our mantra since we all came together: Next man up,” said forward Tristan Thompson, who had 19 points, 12 rebounds, four block and four steals in Sunday’s 107-91 win over the Thunder. “We talk about it every year. Next man up. We hope Kevin gets well, takes care of his body, because you know we’re going to need him for the long haul.

“So whatever he has to do to get 100 percent, that’s the most important. We need Kev for the long haul. Everyone wants to push it through, but if you’re hurt or you’re not feeling right, get right because we need the big fella.”

Love’s back issue isn’t new. He was kept out of the second half of a loss at Golden State on Jan. 16 with spasms and sat out a Jan. 18 home game against Phoenix. The 28-year-old player has been dealing with a back problem since he was traded to Cleveland from Minnesota in 2014. He scored one point and grabbed eight rebounds in 12 minutes on Sunday before his back tightened up on him.

Love’s status could have a ripple effect over the coming weeks as the team looks to add frontcourt depth and a backup point guard. General manager David Griffin is expected to make some moves before the Feb. 23 trade deadline.

The Cavs have an open roster spot and it’s possible they could sign a big man to a 10-day contract while Love recovers.

Cleveland has been dealing with some recent turbulence with ugly losses. LeBron James called the roster “top heavy” and questioned whether the front office was satisfied with one title.

While being named an Eastern Conference All-Star reserve last week, Love’s name surfaced again in trade rumors, this time in a potential deal with the New York Knicks for Carmelo Anthony. Although the Cavs did not comment on a report the Knicks wanted to trade for Love, James and Anthony are close friends and have talked in the past about playing together.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

More from Tom Withers | The Associated Press
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